Back to school time can shake up a lot of emotion for us moms. Sometimes it’s relief to get back into a routine, or summertime whiplash, "Where did the summer go"? Maybe its subtle anxiety to get you and your kids organized for back to school success. Perhaps a little of all three.
I started feeling the anxiety to have everything perfectly in place by day-one of school. Then reality set it. It will never be “perfect” and definitely not by the first day of school. So I took a sigh of relief and decided to just tackle one space at a time. I simply want zones in my house that make waking up, getting dressed, fed, and out the door simple and also empower my kids to help and make decisions for themselves in the process.
At the same time, I didn’t want to run out and buy a bunch of plastic crap. I want it to look good too. I am a strong believer that even utilitarian spaces should be beautiful so we actually find pleasure interacting in those places.
So today, I’m tacking 3 zones in our home, I believe should be well organized (for easy-breezy mornings) and look good too (for happy mammas). This can be done anytime really, but back-to-school time is when most of us feel the urge to get things in order.
(In case you missed it, last week I tackled the entry zone here)
#1 Homework Zone
Even if your kids are too young to get regular homework assignments, getting them used to the idea of their own work zone, can make it easier when they do.
Keep it simple. The less “stuff” the fewer distractions. I recommend the following:
- A right-sized desk
- Desk Chair (Swivel chairs ideal for 5+ years old)
- Desk lamp
- Containers for supplies
- Pin-up board
If you plan to use the space for crafts too, consider your child’s personality. Will they be distracted by seeing the art supplies or is it better to store those items in bins? (I love using photo boxes for art supplies).
#2 Dressing Zone
When it comes to organizing your kids closet, consider your child’s personality and what works best for them. Some kids have the ability to make choices on their own without much direction, while others need fewer choices. Either way, empowering kids to make decisions for themselves is ultimately good for their development (even if you hate the outfits they put together!) A few things to keep in mind:
- Keep everyday items in reach. For instance, out of season clothes should go on the top rack. Shoe cubbies are best on the ground vs an over-the-door organizer they can’t reach.
- Streamline - Ditch wire hangers for matching wood or plastic hangers. Pick a pretty hamper with a lid.
- Store undergarments within reach - I like these wooden bins for storing under garments. I don’t feel the need to fold them saving time on laundry.
- Task kids to pick outfits for the week - Sunday afternoon, have kids pick out an outfit for each day of the week. They can organize them in the hanging shelves seen here. Have them include socks and underwear. Consider using this as a learning opportunity to look and discuss the weather for the week. If they need it, set a timer for about 20 minutes to accomplish the task.
#3 Kitchen Zone
Organizing your kitchen for easy breakfast and lunches can help you have a more relaxed morning with your children. Here are a few tips for easy-breezy food prep.
- Pre-make Grab-and-Go portions - Let your kids pick the number of portions you deem appropriate. For Example: In Fridge, they can pick 1 veggie bag, 1 fruit bag, and 1 protein bag like your or almond butter.
- Save money by not buying pre-packaged foods - Instead, pre-make your own with ziplock (Save money and the environment with reusable washable snack bags.
- Group like items - Use baskets or bins in the panty to corral pre-portioned food
- Make things easy to reach - Keep a stool nearby for easy reach on higher shelves. (Hint for households with toddlers. We can't keep our toddler out of the pantry so we hang the stool on the wall out of reach when it's not time to be in there.)
Okay...How are you feeling. Really? I personally get excited at the idea of organizing but for others it can cause serious overwhelm. Don't let it. Just pick one space and do what you can. Before you run out buying a bunch of organizing gear, take stock of what you already have. Turn on some music and just have fun with it. And for heavens sake. Don't feel like you have to have everything done by the first day of school!